Events & News


The European Union- an inspirational partner or euro-chauvinistic pretender?

Dr Yeo Lay Hwee, Associate Director, EU Centre in Singapore

20 January 2009
Seminar Room 5.2, Level 5 School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University


On the invitation of Singapore Management University, Dr Yeo Lay Hwee gave a talk on the above topic as part of the SMU School of Social Sciences Capstone Seminar Series in January 2009. The Series promotes scholarly interactions and is conducted by speakers from both inside and outside the university.

Dr Yeo presented an overview of the institutions within the European Union (EU) and their respective roles, namely the European Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice.  The EU is seen as the most successful model of regional integration. It can also pride itself as a successful experiment in the pooling of sovereignty and promotion of multilateralism as a model of governance.  Since the 1970s, that which is now the EU has engaged in group-to-group dialogue, in part as a way to “promote” its model of governance to the world.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been a long-standing partner of the EU.  In over 30 years of regular contacts and cooperation between EU and ASEAN, it is timely to take stock of the quality of this group-to-group dialogue and ask what lessons ASEAN has distilled from EU on regional cooperation. Dr Yeo gave examples of how the EU been seen as an “inspiration” when ASEAN embarked on its charter-drafting exercise. However, the EU was also seen as a “Euro-chauvinistic partner” during the early 90s up to the Asian financial crisis. At that period of time, there was a rejection of the EU model by some ASEAN countries.  However, after that, ASEAN countries are once again reviewing the EU model for lessons to learn and mistakes to avoid, in building the Economic, Cultural & Social & Security pillars of the ASEAN community. The EU thus becomes an inspirational partner once again.